John Raoux/Associated Press
If Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association cannot come to terms on a plan to hold the 2020 season, commissioner Rob Manfred is reportedly expected to intervene.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the players union executive board is set to vote on the league’s proposal of a 60-game season. If it is vetoed, Manfred is expected to mandate and set a schedule for the 2020 season.
Heyman added that whether Manfred mandates a 2020 season will also depend if it’s determined to be safe to play baseball during the coronavirus pandemic.
Heyman also reported that the eight-man union executive subcommittee may be “near unanimous” in voting against MLB’s proposal. Colorado Rockies infielder Daniel Murphy may be the only person leaning in the other direction, meaning it could be a 7-1 vote against the proposal.
Per ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said Friday in a statement that the league informed him it was sticking with its most recent offer of a 60-game schedule with full prorated salaries: “MLB has informed the Association that it will not respond to our last proposal and will not play more than 60 games. Our Executive Board will convene in the near future to determine next steps. Importantly, players remain committed to getting back to work as soon as possible.”
When MLB initially proposed that offer, the union countered with a 70-game proposal. If the players association does not accept the terms, there will likely be no additional offers and the decision will be firmly in Manfred’s hands.
The 2020 MLB season had been scheduled to start in late March, but play was halted during spring training because of the coronavirus pandemic. Even though NASCAR and golf have resumed and both the NBA and NHL have plans to resume their seasons next month, MLB has been unable to come to terms.
One of the biggest initial hang-ups was MLB’s reluctance to pay players full prorated salaries given the significant revenue hit the league is set to take. Teams will play far fewer than their scheduled 162 games, which will hurt television revenue, and there will be no gate revenue since fans have not been given clearance to attend games.
MLB relented on the full prorated salaries, but the MLBPA is hoping for a slightly longer schedule than 60 games to recoup more money.
If a 60-game season is a non-starter for the union, then its best bet is to reject the proposal and hope Manfred either goes with 70 games or meets the sides somewhere in the middle.
One risk in that scenario, however, is that the current proposal includes expanded playoffs, which would mean more money for the players who play on teams that qualify for the postseason. It is possible Manfred could scrap that as part of his mandate.
MLB and the union must also continue to worry about the COVID-19 situation, as all spring training camps were shut down this week following some positive coronavirus tests.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Saturday that teams will shift their spring training camps to their home cities as a result.